Hey, have we got a deal for the U.S. government - If federal officials want an owl study, we have a suggestion. Read a newspaper.

By the Editorial Board of the Union-Bulletin


Spotted owls were in the news this month.

An Associated Press report out of Olympia noted that Washington state's spotted owl population has declined sharply despite the 15-year recovery effort. The latest population studies on the Olympic Peninsula and the Cascades estimates the owl population is down 50 percent in the past decade.

This information comes from the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Apparently the people over at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aren't talking to the Forest Service folks - or reading a newspaper. Another Associated Press report, this one out of Washington, D.C., says that Fish and Wildlife has awarded a contract to a private consulting firm to determine whether the spotted owl should keep its federal protection as a threatened species. The firm - for a fee of $415,000 - will analyze data for the last 10 years to learn whether the population is growing or shrinking.

Hmmm, maybe we can help.

That U.S. Forest Service reports that owl population is down 50 percent. Problem solved. That will be $415,000 please.

Oh, heck, it really wasn't that much work - make it an even $400,000.


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